President Trump’s Potentially “Yuge” Problem
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, are expected to do a lot of heavy lifting to help ensure President Donald Trump wins the state, which would ultimately and probably lead to him winning reelection.
In looking at the field of Democratic presidential candidates, Trump’s prospects look pretty good, even as the Senate impeachment trial is about to begin. Yeah, Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally sent over the articles to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But with all that said, Florida’s Minimum Wage ballot initiative could turn out to be problematic for Republicans and Democrats.
Well, recent polling shows that a majority of Floridians support the measure and that popularity could drive unlikely Democrat voters to the polls.
DeSantis opposes the wage rate hike, but…READ MORE
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“Wage hike ballot measure could hurt Trump’s chances in Florida” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida continues to be the ultimate swing state during any given election year, and 2020 will not be any different from past elections. Trump won Florida in 2016, and from the looks of it, the president could very well take the Sunshine State as more than 51% of Floridians opposed the Democratic Party’s play to impeach a sitting president. Yeah, the House articles of impeachment have finally made its way over to the Senate, so a trial is all-but assured to take commence in the coming days. But while it appears as if Floridians will support a Trump reelection, the proposed ballot initiative, “Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage,” would turn out to be an unexpected thorn in the side for the Trump Victory campaign. With ballot organizers having collected 800,000 signatures needed for the amendment initiative to qualify to be on the ballot, and with polling showing that a majority of Floridians supporting the measure, the John Morgan-backed minimum rate hike will pass. In order for any ballot initiative to pass, sixty percent of voters must vote in favor of the measure. This amendment could drive enough Democrats to the polls to make it uncomfortable for the president and his team and could compromise his chances of reelection in Florida.
“Waltz Sponsors Bill Furthering PTSD Research” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Freshman Florida Rep. Michael Waltz (R) announced this week that a bipartisan effort was introducing a bill to leverage research of the United States and Israel to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act, introduced by Waltz, Chrissy Houlahan (D), Lee Zeldin (R) and Elaine Luria (D), is designed to leverage research assets and any experiences of the United States and Israel to develop the best possible practices in the research, diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. This legislation would also establish a grant program for universities in America and private non-profits teaming with their Israeli counterparts to study PTSD. In a statement, Waltz championed the bill, commenting that “too many of our veterans come home to experience PTSD.” As such, “this… is in no way their fault and we must do everything we can to support those who struggle and fight for them as they have for us.” And, Waltz asserted that “this legislation sends a message to all our veterans” that “we will never forget the sacrifices you have made and we will use every tool at our disposal to help you as you transition to civilian life.” The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 11 and 20 percent of veterans that served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have returned with PTSD. In addition, female veterans involved in these conflicts have returned with a higher rate of PTSD, citing almost 20 percent as being diagnosed with PTSD.
“DeSantis Wants Higher Medicaid Funding for Hospitals” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – This week, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced he was proposing to create a new program intended to increase funding for high-performing hospitals, which would bring more money for more than 66 hospitals across the sunshine state. The program is called the Top Outcomes for Patients Program and it would give additional Medicaid dollars to hospitals that are nationally ranked as high-performing hospitals. The list of hospitals includes Miami/Broward hospitals. Governor DeSantis included the program in the $91.4 billion budget plan that was revealed at the end of the year. As well, he recommended that $3.8 million be spent on the initiative to provide better care for these hospitals. Carlos Migoya, president and CEO of Miami’s Jackson Health System, praised DeSantis’ support, commenting that “Jackson Health System has long had a reputation for clinical excellence and world-class medicine.” He thanked Governor DeSantis because he “recognizes and values the high quality care we provide and that he is eager to reward excellent performance by health systems like Jackson.” In addition, Migoya asserted that “every bit of public funding – from local, state and federal resources – helps Jackson fulfill its mission to its residents of Miami-Dade County.”
“Teacher sits on boy, 3, and breaks his leg, cops say,” the Sun-Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash – A teacher was arrested Tuesday after authorities said she sat on a 3-year-old child at a day care, breaking his leg. Authorities said Estefany de Los Angeles Acosta sat on the boy because he was misbehaving, according to the arrest report. (Palm Beach Sheriffs Office / Courtesy)
A teacher sat on a 3-year-old child at a day care, breaking his leg, cops say. Estefany de Los Angeles Acosta, a 24-year-old instructor who is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds, said she sat on the kid because he was misbehaving, according to her arrest report. Boca Raton Police arrested her Tuesday on the charge of aggravated battery on a child. She had taught at the Early Learning Academy, situated at St. David Armenian Apostolic Church at 2300 Yamato Road in Boca Raton, police said.
“House takes aim at ballot initiatives,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders’ – Thursday moved forward with a bill that would continue to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. The House Judiciary Committee voted 12-6 to approve the measure, which would create additional hurdles for political committees seeking to put proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. As an example, it would make it significantly harder to trigger Florida Supreme Court reviews that play a crucial role in determining whether amendments go before voters. The measure (PCB JDC 20-01) is the latest move in years of efforts by Republican leaders and influential groups, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, to limit the initiative process. They argue, in part, that the process can lead to big-money donors bankrolling constitutional amendments on issues that should be decided by the Legislature. “When we allow the citizen petition initiative to run unbridled, what we tell people is that a billionaire can fund a single initiative and trample over every other individual who doesn’t have the time, the obligation, the understanding or the expertise to dive in and understand,” bill sponsor James Grant, R-Tampa, told the committee.
“Traveling with Vice President Mike Pence through Central Florida” by Fox 35 Orlando – Vice President Mike Pence made a stop in Central Florida on Thursday for a 2020 election campaign event. The “Latinos for Trump” event was attended by the vice president and Second Lady Karen Pence. Earlier, Pence made a stop in Tampa to host a “Keep America Great Rally.”Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday attended a “Latinos for Trump” event at a Kissimmee church as part of the campaign’s strategy to court evangelical Latinos. The vice president’s visits came on the same day that the U.S. Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Florida representative Val Demings is serving as one of seven impeachment managers for the impeachment trial. The trial, only the third such undertaking in American history, is unfolding at the start of the election year, a time of deep political division in the nation. Four of the senators sitting in judgment on Trump are running for the Democratic Party’s nomination to challenge him in the fall. Trump faces two charges after the House voted to impeach him last month. One, that he abused his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump is also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe. he president insists he did nothing wrong, and he dismissed the trial anew on Thursday at the White House: “It’s totally partisan. It’s a hoax.” Eventual acquittal is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, new revelations are mounting about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.
“Pence Courts Evangelical Latino Voters in Florida” by Associated Press – Marilyn Del Valle climbed to her feet at the Nacion de Fe church in Kissimmee on Thursday, clapping and taking photos as Vice President Mike Pence took the stage. Del Valle is a proud “Nuyorican” — born in New York to Puerto Rican parents — who lives in central Florida. She’s part of the Republican Party’s highly courted demographic this campaign season: evangelical Latinos. The campaign believes that emphasizing religion and anti-abortion talking points could reach those Latino voters who have doubts about the GOP over issues like immigration. Even attracting a small slice of evangelical Latinos could help Trump win Florida again; he won the state by 1.2 percentage points in 2016. Less than two weeks ago, Trump visited a Hispanic megachurch in Miami, kicking off an “Evangelicals for Trump” focus, and Thursday’s event was an extension of that. Kissimmee, which is in Osceola County near Orlando, is heavily Puerto Rican. Those voters are especially attractive to the GOP because they’re American citizens and can vote. While many have traditionally been Democrats, Republicans think they can reach the more conservative folks in that booming demographic. According to census data, 29.3% of the residents in Osceola were a racial group other than white in 2000. In 2018, that number had swelled to 55.3%.
“Justices deal blow to felons’ voting rights” by GateHouse Capital Bureau’s John Kennedy – The Florida Supreme Court sided with Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature Thursday in a wide-ranging battle over restoring voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions. In an opinion sought by the GOP governor, justices said that completing “all terms of sentence” means these felons must pay court-ordered fees, fines and restitution before regaining their voting rights in the nation’s biggest presidential toss-up state. The Legislature last year set this requirement in implementing a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018 which allowed for restoration of felons’ voting rights after they “complete all terms of their sentence, including parole and probation.” Amendment 4 was aimed at eliminating Florida’s more than 150-year old prohibition on felons registering to vote. The number of disenfranchised Floridians tops that of any state, and critics condemn the financial requirement as similar to the segregation-era poll tax used to keep minority voters from casting ballots. Since Amendment 4 passed, Duval County had added more than 31,000 newly registered voters, as of November 2019, a Times-Union analysis showed. The Duval County Supervisor of Elections said it will continue registering all new voters. The onus of removing voters who are ineligible rests with Tallahassee administrators, said Arzada Haynes, the county’s director of voter registration. Amendment 4 advocates downplayed the state Supreme Court opinion Thursday, saying it will have little effect on a federal court which has set a challenge to the law for trial in April. “The Florida Supreme Court’s advisory opinion does not — indeed, cannot — alter what the U.S. Constitution requires,” said a joint statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Brennan Center for Justice, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among those suing the state over the new law.
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis riding high in new poll” by Sarasota Herald Tribune’s Zac Anderson – Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to enjoy plenty of goodwill among Florida voters as he heads into his second legislative session, according to a new poll released Wednesday. The Florida Atlantic University survey — which also found Joe Biden leading the Democratic presidential field in Florida and 51% of Florida voters opposing President Donald Trump’s impeachment — indicates DeSantis has significant political currency as he works to enact another round of populist proposals during the 60-day session that began Tuesday. The poll found that 48% of registered voters approve of DeSantis’ job performance, while 28% disapprove and 25% are neutral or have no opinion. DeSantis has advanced proposals with bipartisan appeal that have gained favor with large numbers of Floridians. Last year the governor pushed through bills that allowed medical marijuana to be smoked and increased environmental funding. He also advanced a plan to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. This year the governor has seized on the idea of increasing starting teacher pay to $47,500, a widely popular initiative that seems likely to gain traction. And he wants to enact new environmental regulations and continue to increase funding for environmental clean up. The poll also found that more Florida voters approve (45%) of DeSantis’ close ally, Trump, than disapprove (43%). And voters oppose impeaching and removing Trump by a slim margin, with 51 percent against removing him from office and 49 percent in favor. Trump’s margins on impeachment and job approval both are with the poll’s margin of error.
“Senate advances criminal justice reform package” by WCTV’s Jake Stofan – Legislation allowing judges to hand out lower sentences in many drug cases is now ready for a vote in the full State Senate after clearing its final committee stop Wednesday afternoon. Florida has made a number of criminal justice reforms in recent years, but there’s one area lawmakers say has been left out. “Sentencing reform has been somewhat elusive,” said Senate Sponsor Rob Bradley. If the bill becomes law, it would make some of the first major sentencing reforms in decades. It would allow in certain drug trafficking cases, for judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentences. “We could all agree that we could do better when it comes to dealing with the scourge of drugs in our society,” said Bradley. The idea is facing opposition from law enforcement. “Drug traffickers are killing people in our state with the poison that they’re pumping,” said Gary Hester with the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Prosecutors were also against the bill. “When you get to the 15 and 25 year level of trafficking that is a lot of drugs. That is not a personal possession amount,” said Philip Archer, President of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. But lawmakers were quick to refute concerns raised by opponents. “Many of these people are girlfriends of drug dealers that get caught up in the whole thing and they’re facing the exact same charge or similar charges the drug dealer’s facing,” said State Senate Jeff Brandes.
“DeSantis Reaches Deal to Save Everglades Wetlands” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Since becoming Governor of Florida in the 2018 midterm election, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has prioritized the environment. 2020 looks like it won’t be any different as DeSantis announced this week that an agreement had been reached to acquire 20,000 acres of critical Everglades wetlands. The purchase is the largest acquisition of wetland area in a decade, and it will permanently save the land from the harmful effects of oil drilling. The deal was reached between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with Kanter Real Estate LLC. The acres are in Water Conservation Area 3 in Broward County. In a statement, Governor DeSantis reminded that “one of my administration’s top environmental priorities has been expediting Everglades restoration.” As a result, the DeSantis administration has taken “another step in the right direction by reaching this agreement between DEP and Kanter Real Estate that will allow for the purchase of 20,000 acres of critical wetlands.” With the purchase, it “will permanently save these lands from oil drilling,” and the Governor highlighted that he is “proud of our progress” but also realizes that “this is just the beginning.” As a result, he vowed to “continue to fight every day for the Everglades and Florida’s environment.”
“Sanders: ‘I’d rather being Iowa’ Campaigning than in Washington for Impeachment… “ by HISPOLITICA’s Mona Salama
“Senators Sworn In To Render ‘Impartial Justice’ For Trump Impeachment Trial,” by HISPOLITICA’s Mona Salama
“US troops were injured in Iran missile attack despite Pentagon initially saying there were no casualties” by CNN’s Jake Tapper, Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr – Several US service members were injured during last week’s Iranian missile attack on Al-Asad airbase in Iraq despite the Pentagon initially saying that no casualties had taken place. “While no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” the US-led military coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria said in a statement Thursday. “Out of an abundance of caution, service members were transported from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for follow-on screening. When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” the statement added. A US military official told CNN that 11 service members had been injured in the attack, which was launched in retaliation for the US airstrikes that had killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani the previous week. Defense One was first to report on the injured service members. Following the attack the Pentagon said that no casualties had resulted from the 16 missiles fired by Iran. The US military defines a casualty as either an injury or fatality involving personnel. Asked about the apparent discrepancy, a Defense official told CNN, “That was the commander’s assessment at the time. Symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution.”
“Gregg Jarrett: Pelosi’s sham Trump impeachment is abuse of power for political gain” by Fox News’s Gregg Jarrett – Dripping with derision, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exulted that President Trump has “been impeached forever.” “They can never erase that,” she intoned. If Pelosi had a football nearby, she would have spiked it. Her celebratory remarks crystallized what the impeachment of Donald Trump is all about. Pelosi, D-Calif., doesn’t care about facts, evidence or what constitutes an impeachable offense under the Constitution. She cares only about bludgeoning the president for the electoral harm it might cause him in November. This has been Pelosi’s intent all along. Impeachment was her political cudgel. She crowed about it like a pro wrestler who body slams an opponent and then celebrates by prancing around the ring. It was all staged, of course. No one should be fooled by Pelosi’s shameless antics. She has wanted to impeach Trump since he took office. She admitted it during a televised forum last month. It was a moment of uncommon candor for a speaker who routinely traffics in duplicity. At the same venue, she also repeated the canard she’s been peddling for months. “We don’t take any glee in this at all. It is heartbreaking.” Right. And don’t forget, she prays for the president. She seems obsessed with reminding us how “prayerful” she is. Pelosi is the master of insincerity. On the eve of the House vote to impeach, she insisted that “politics is not even a consideration in this.” Really? Then why did she confess that she’s been yearning for impeachment since Trump moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Does anyone believe that whopper? For months, Pelosi insisted that she would never condone a partisan impeachment. Then she engineered a partisan impeachment.
“Iraqi refugee launches GOP challenge to Ilhan Omar: ‘She needs to be stopped’” by Fox News’s Ronn Blitzer – Dalia al-Aqidi is a Muslim Iraqi refugee who says she’s tired of hearing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., play identity politics while using language she believes is “dividing” America. So she is launching a campaign to unseat her in November. Al-Aqidi, who discussed her newly launched campaign in an interview with Fox News, joins a growing field of Republicans looking to take on Omar. “She needs to be stopped,” al-Aqidi told Fox News in a phone interview. “I truly believe that I’m strong enough to beat her at her own game.” She explained that in a race between the two of them, Omar would be limited in using her background as a Muslim woman who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia to distinguish them — because they are “basically the same” in that backstory, she said. Al-Aqidi decried the use of identity politics on the campaign trail. “Muslims, Christians, Jews are all Americans,” she said, while going on to blast Omar’s past comments that have been labeled anti-Semitic. “Every time she opens her mouth she says something either anti-U.S. or anti-Semitic,” al-Aqidi said. Omar has apologized for past tweets about Israel that played on anti-Semitic tropes.
“Trump Boosts School Prayer, Faith Groups as He Rallies Base” by Associated Press’s Collin Binkley and Elana Schor – In a bid to solidify his evangelical base, President Donald Trump on Thursday vowed to protect prayer in public schools and took new steps to give religious organizations easier access to federal programs. Speaking at an Oval Office event and joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Trump unveiled the federal government’s first updated guidance on school prayer since 2003. It details scenarios in which school officials must permit prayer and clarifies the consequences if they don’t, but overall it makes few major changes to the guidance it replaces. “We will not let anyone push God from the public square,” Trump said as he introduced the new rules. “We will uphold religious liberty for all.” Hours before the event, nine Cabinet departments proposed separate rules intended to remove barriers for religious organizations participating in federal programs. Chief among the changes is the elimination of a rule requiring religious groups to refer clients to alternative organizations upon request. The proposals follow through on an executive order Trump signed in 2018 aiming to put religious groups on equal footing when they compete for federal grants, contracts and other types of funding. Trump’s announcements amount to a significant show of support for an evangelical constituency that has long been a vital part of his base. He has given them greater attention in recent weeks following a Christian magazine’s call for his removal from office.
“FBI Plans to Notify States About Local Election Breaches” by Associated Press – The FBI, in a change of policy, is committing to inform state officials if local election systems have been breached, federal officials said Thursday. In the past, the FBI would alert local governments about attacks on their electoral systems without automatically sharing that information with the state. That meant state officials, left in the dark, might be in a position of certifying the accuracy of election results without realizing there had been problems in individual counties. Alerting local governments about breaches, but not the states, was in keeping with FBI policy of protecting the privacy and identities of the actual hacking victim. Now, though, the FBI will notify both counties victimized by breaches as well as the state’s chief election official — in most cases, the secretary of state. Under the new policy, that notification is to be done in person. The state will be notified either simultaneously or around the same time, officials said Thursday. The change is intended to bolster federal-state cooperation, which has often been difficult on electoral issues, and is one of several government efforts to rethink how information about cyber threats is shared and with whom. It may also ease concerns of local officials who in the past have complained about the lack of information they’ve received from the federal government, though cooperation has improved ahead of the 2020 election with concerns that Russia or another nation could try to tamper with the vote. The policy change was shared with state officials on Thursday and made public later in the day. Senior officials from the FBI and Justice Department described the outlines of it to The Associated Press ahead of the formal release on condition of anonymity.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump – I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!
Nancy Pelosi @SpeakerPelosi– American elections should be decided by the American people, not by the Russian Government. Retweet if you agree!
Rick Scott @SenRickScott [email protected] ’s plan to eliminate all student loans is a fairytale that would just make the underlying problem worse. Rather than just make student loans magically disappear, we should be focused on bringing down the cost of higher education.
Marco Rubio @marcorubio – UK, France & Germany warned #Iran not to break the limits of the #IranDeal And Iran responded by threatening to attack their troops in Mideast This behavior by Iran,not U.S. policy,is the reason why the threat of escalation exists
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell @RepDMP – I just voted to pass a bipartisan bill to restore strong workplace protections for older workers. More than half of workers age 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination. We cannot accept ANY form of discrimination in our country! #POWADA
Debbie Wasserman Schultz @DWStweets Proud my FLA colleague @RepValDemings is on the Congressional impeachment beat. Orlando’s first female police chief knows how to persue justice. #DefendOurDemocracy
Rep. Michael Waltz @RepMichaelWaltz – [email protected] called this a sad, “somber” moment. Yet here she is, smiling for dozens of cameras at a signing ceremony, which are typically reserved for legislative celebrations and victories. Ridiculous.
Rep. Ted Deutch @RepTedDeutch – The House impeached President Trump for abusing his power and obstructing Congress. These articles are now with the Senate. I urge the Senators to remember their oath to the Constitution & hold a fair trial of the President’s offenses, including by hearing from fact witnesses.
Casey DeSantis @FLCaseyDeSantis -It was such a privilege to host legislative spouses today at the Governor’s Mansion. As partners of those who serve in public office, we can not only provide support, but also use our voices to raise awareness and positively impact our great state.
Ron DeSantis @GovRonDeSantis – Enjoyed speaking at @FlChamber’s #FCCFlyIn20 today to discuss Florida’s low taxes, reasonable regulatory climate and positive disposition toward business. Our state continues to thrive, and our business leaders continue to pave the way for Florida’s success
Byron Donalds @ByronDonalds – Today I joined Senator Doug Broxson & Rep. Bob Rommel to discuss much needed tort reform in Florida’s civil judicial system and lawsuit abuse. Excess torts fees cost $719.01 per person in Florida!
Rep. Carlos G Smith @CarlosGSmith – It’s hard to believe that this is a legislature where three LGBTQ members are proudly and openly serving, but it is. THIS is what it feels like to be kicked in the gut by your colleagues. I am so utterly offended and disappointed.
“Police in Florida arrest Iranian national carrying knives, machete, and pickaxe,” by Fox 35 Orlando – Lake Mary, Fla.
– Police officers in Palm Beach, Florida have detained an Iranian national who was found to be in possession of several knives, a machete, and a pickaxe.
Officers located the man along the Flagler Memorial Bridge on Friday afternoon, as they were responding to a call about a suspicious person. During the investigation, they determined a vehicle located at Palm Beach International Airport was also tied to the man, and he was carrying approximately $22,000 in U.S. currency.